On January 1, 1848, Savitribai Phule and her husband, Jyotiba Phule, established the first girls’ school at Bhide Wada in Pune’s Budhwar Peth. Today marks 175 years since this monumental achievement. Let's embark on a brief exploration of its enduring legacy.
- Bhide Wada was constructed when the Peshwas ruled Pune. It became pivotal in the inception of the first girls' school when Tatyasaheb Bhide, a friend of Jyotiba Phule, offered two rooms in his family home for the school.
- This educational endeavour faced resistance from traditionalists, yet Savitribai Phule, alongside Jyotiba, emerged as a transformative figure in women’s education. Savitribai, initially mentored by Jyotirao, later received training to become the headmistress of the Bhide Wada school.
After the demolition, the PMC has barricaded the plot | Anand Chaini
- While the initial school at Bhide Wada was short-lived, it sparked a profound legacy. The Phule couple went on to establish over 18 schools across Pune, laying the foundation for educational reforms.
- Ownership of the 2,500 sq ft Bhide Wada shifted hands multiple times in the 20th century. Despite its historical significance, legal disputes and redevelopment stalled its preservation.
- After years of legal battle, the site was handed over to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in November 2023 to build a national monument in its place.
- To speed up the development of the national monument, the PMC demolished the structure in the wee hours of December 5 and forcibly acquired the property as the occupants did not cooperate.
- With Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar allocating ₹100 crore for the memorial, the vision is to merge historical aesthetics with modern functionality. The proposed structure plans to offer a glimpse into the Phule era with replicated classrooms and educational facilities.
- The envisioned memorial includes a two-storey building spanning 6,212 sqft, a statue of Savitribai Phule, a library, a reading room, and rooms replicating the school environment during the Phules' era, ensuring an immersive educational experience.